CHANTILLY, Va (WDVM) — In the year of COVID, high school athletes have had to find different ways to show college recruiters what they are made of. And on Sunday in Chantilly, the football players did just that.
Kids from around the northern Virginia area came out Sunday to put in work at the Pro Elite Scouting Combine, run by ex-NFL linebacker Eddie Mason.
“[We] basically come out and try to create a platform for these young kids, to where they can come out, be coached by some of the best coaches in the area, be connected to some of the scouts and recruiters virtually, and thirdly come out here and showcase their skills,” said Mason.
Sunday was not your typical high school combine. There was not as many athletes as usual, and the entire event was free of charge. To Mason, it was never about making a profit.
“We try to help these kids as best as we can by mentoring them, the same way so many coaches along the way had mentored me. And that’s why we do it. Somebody took a time out for me and gave back to me and my family, and we are doing the same for these families in this community.”
It’s a tough time for these athletes. The clocks ticking on their high school careers. The next stop is college. Even though high schoolers believe the recruiting process is coming to a close, it’s not.
“There’s no end date really to it,” said Shepherd Football Head Coach Ernie McCook. “So kids that feel like their opportunities are closing, they should try to keep it on their head like, hey, I’ll be okay. What’s going to happen is going to need to happen.”
It’s the year of COVID, the year of uncertainty, and athletes have been through the ringer just to get an opportunity to get noticed. But they are taking that opportunity and make the most of it.
“All I can try to do is grind, get better,” said Westfield junior RB Mikel Legall. “We can’t get the pads on yet. So grinding, getting work in at home, weight room, training, all of that. It’s a lot of uncertainty, we might not play in February, we might. Just keep grinding, you never know what’s going to happen. Just stay ready.”
“It’s our new normal, get use to it,” said Mason. “We call it the halftime adjustment in football. There’s things that are going to happen in life, there’s things that you can’t control, things are going to happen on the football field. It’s another adjustment we all have to do in sports as well as in life.”